Monday, 21 September 2009

Another Bail-Out?

It is an interesting story to come out today. You probably won't see it on CNN or Fox...but the White House is letting folks know that they would support a bail-out for newspapers.

What they are saying....is between the current economic situation and spiraling revenue fall.....newspapers across the country are showing the potential to fail. And if they aren't in the failure mode....then they've cut staff and journalist's salaries to survive.

What I find curious about this....almost all of the papers have been showing a decline for the past decade. This trend now....isn't something triggered by the Feb/Mar bank failures....it's long-term and has almost nothing to do with the current economy.

A number of these papers had a deep pool of four-star journalists on hand.....who reported little on the local town....and instead keyed in on national politics or state politics. They were paying three or four guys over $200k each....and the articles generated were barely read by ten percent of the newspaper's readers. It became a charity operation where journalists were simply hired and pretending to give the newspaper real "fill".

Adding to this mess was the general political agenda by the bulk of these papers in the spiraling column. Rather than try to stay neutral or show both sides of a debate...some of these papers figured their readers were mostly liberal or just waiting to accept anything they said. As subscribers dropped out....the papers guessed by that point where they were screwing up....but couldn't fix anything. It was too late.

So here we are....a national newspaper bail-out plan being planted as possible and would be supported by the President. If you were going to take bets....I'd be betting that the Republicans have zero interest....and ten percent of the Democrats in the House might be questioning how smart this would be at this point in time.

The curious thing about this spiral....a number of big-name writers are facing either a pay-cut or being laid off in 2010 (an election year). They've likely called in every marker possible because they really can't afford a $40k pay-cut and it'd be total disaster for them on the job market next year. After all.....what does a former top reporter for the LA Times making $160k a year do now when he's unemployed?

Eventually, we'll even have CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS and NBC calling for bail-out.....with Fox smiling as they report it.

Musical Chairs

News reports today indicate that New York Governor David Paterson hasn’t yet given up on the idea of running for governor in 2010. Apparently, the phone chat with President Obama didn’t dent his spark on this whole thing.

I’m suspecting that he wants an offer for some think-tank or Czar job....before he truly gives up on the governor idea.

Naturally, this whole gameplan for the White House has musical chairs attached to it. There is Paterson stepping down and Hillary leaving the State Department job. Then there’s some other senator sitting in the wings who becomes the next Secretary of State. Then we have some guy sitting in some state who going to be appointed by the Democratic governor to the Senator’s position.

The amount of Presidential interest in Massachusetts....likely plays into this entire mess. Imagine John Kerry being offered the Secretary of State’s job. If the state senate passes this stupid change to the change to the change rule....allowing the state governor to appoint someone before the election....then this all fits.

So my prediction is that Hillary gives notice in December that she’s leaving in January....and that John Kerry is picked as the new Secretary of State. The neat thing about this is that Patrick Kennedy gets the first nod, and possible Vicki Kennedy....widow of Ted....gets the second nod. So we suddenly end up with two Kennedys for the state.

And Paterson? Surely, there is a Czar job for the guy....somewhere....somehow.

KMCC & the Grand Opening of the BX

For those who aren't in the know....our mega mall center on Ramstein has come to the last phase.

So today, it was the final big grand opening of the KMCC BX.

After all those years, I suddenly had this feeling that I had been living in Bolivia, and now, I was in the Promised Land. Here were Army wives in the Victoria’s Secret area and they were gorgeous, with it feeling like the streets of Miami for a brief second. Here were mountains of snow shovels (really just the same two varieties, just sixty of each on display). Here were the aisles and aisles of stuff…yes, lots of stuff.

Frankly, after thirty minutes….I started to feel faint and this was all too much for me. So I walked out the side door and figured I’d revisit the Sports Bar. That was a mistake.

I walked into the Sports Bar at the KMCC….and sat down. I figured….after three minutes, someone would come. This was noon, and less than forty people in the whole place. Five minutes passed. Eight minutes passed. Finally at the ten minute point…I stood up, and walked out. They had four waitresses walking around but the best I could figure….they were on some kind of schedule that didn’t involve me.

So I walked down and had a Cinnabon and soda. And then I sat and simply watched people.

This was the best part of the 70 minutes I spent at the KMCC. If you sit there at the Cinnabon shop….you end up seeing dozens of people every minute who walk by. It’s almost that feeling you’d have in an American mall of sorts.

So I give positive marks over the KMCC BX operation. It will be this “magnet” of sorts….dragging poor folks from Graf, Wiesbaden and Stuttgart. The amusing thing is that they have significant parking issues and I’m curious how this works in early December with Xmas shoppers.